The significance of sealing machines in the medical and food industry

Food and pharmaceutical products have a limited shelf life. From the moment they are packaged, their exposure to oxygen causes them to decay. This has made sealing a vital part of the packaging in these industries. Effective sealing displaces the oxygen from the food, keeping products fresh for longer. Sealing has always been important in the food industry, but it is particularly relevant when there are supply chain delays, as has occurred from time to time during the COVID-19 pandemic. NPP’s sealing solutions allow fast and efficient sealing to keep products airtight and protected against contaminants. 

How can advances in sealing technology protect food and extend its shelf life? To answer that question, we need to explore modified atmosphere packaging (MAP).

What is gas flush?

Gas flush is an alternative term for MAP. It consists of injecting an inert gas into a package and then removing it again multiple times. The purpose of this is to eliminate the oxygen in the package. The displacement of the oxygen helps to extend the life of the product, since exposure to oxygen is what causes the breakdown and decay of food and facilitates the growth of bacteria and moulds.

What does MAP mean?

As the name suggests, MAP is the practice of altering or modifying the atmosphere around a product, i.e. changing the composition of gases around the product to prolong its shelf life. MAP preserves food for longer without the need for any chemical preservatives and stabilisers.

Which gases are used MAP?

Any inert gas can be used in MAP, but some are more practical than others. Carbon dioxide is very effective because it inhibits the growth of common bacteria and moulds. It can affect the flavour of the food, however, so a trade-off needs to be struck between the extended shelflife and the tolerable side-effects. Nitrogen is an excellent choice because it can be readily produced and has no side effects. Exotic gases such as helium and argon are also used sometimes and are incredibly useful, but they are also much more expensive than nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

How does MAP extend shelf life?

MAP extends shelflife by excluding oxygen from the package and thus preventing oxidative decay and slowing down the growth of bacteria and mould. The extent to which MAP extends shelf life depends on the product in question. The extension could range from days to years. Fish and other seafood products  usually last for up to two days longer in MAP packaging, while red meat gains an additional four days. Products such as nuts and seeds can be preserved for up to two years in MAP packaging, as opposed to about eight months in ordinary packaging.

Available sealer equipment

NPP supplies several sealing machines that can be used for the purposes of MAP sealing. They include the TS300 semi-automatic tray sealer, which is perhaps the most versatile MAP sealing machine available. Offering the flexibility to change the tray sizes with different plates and larger vacuum pumps for increased production speeds. This sealing machine is ideally suited for production speeds up to 500 packs per hour on a twin tray formation and accepts D2 and D13 tray types.

The semi-automatic, standard or MAP tray sealing machines are commonly installed in supermarkets and food factories, producing ready meals, fresh and cooked meats, fish & vegetables and for any product that needs to be packaged airtight.

Contact us NPP for more information on our sealing machines for MAP and other purposes, as well as our full range of packaging solutions.